Tag Archives: experiments

Apple Burgers

One of my childcare families asked for this recipe recently and I replied that it was ‘on the list of future posts’. I actually have a list of blog posts waiting to be written‚Ķlack of post ideas is not the reason for the long periods of time between posts. Sometimes I just need a a nudge to move a post to the top of the list and get busy writing.

As I mentioned in my last post, this past summer we didn’t follow our regular four-week-revolving menu. Instead, I had made a list – yes, another list – of new recipes I would like to try without necessarily adding them to our regular menu. Apple Burgers were one of the new recipes that the children requested multiple times over the summer and asked to have added to the regular menu permanently.

In the spring, when I first started going through my recipe books to make the ‘new recipes’ list, I almost skipped reading the Apple Burger recipe…again. I say ‘again’ because all my recipe books are more than 20 years old, some may even be older than me. There are no pages in any of my recipe books that I have never looked at but there are definitely recipes that I have not read past the title.

Apple Burgers fell into the ‘skipped’ list because I don’t generally like apples. I mean, I won’t entirely refuse to eat them – like seafood (gag) – but anything apple would be near the bottom of a list. Like on my ‘pie list’ all other fruit pies and most meat/veggie pies would be ahead of apple pie. So, my initial response to reading the title ‘Apple Burgers’ would be ‘eww, why wreck a burger by putting apple on it’ and I would turn the page.

However, this time I read it – after all, I was looking for recipes for lunches for the children and even most of the picky eaters will eat apples. I discovered that ‘Apple Burgers’ are really just chicken/turkey burgers with applesauce in them. MMmmm, chicken and turkey are pretty high up on my list so Apple Burgers got added to the summer recipes to try list.

Now, I will first post the recipe ingredient list as it was originally written with the usual disclaimer that I have NEVER followed a recipe without modifying it. Then I’ll try to guess at what I really did since I don’t measure ingredients.

Apple Burgers
  • 1 lb ground chicken (or turkey)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 tbsp chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp chopped red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

After reading the original recipe my first thoughts were; 1) the children will not even try these if they see a piece of onion or red pepper, 2) there is not nearly enough seasoning/flavor, and 3) why is there no egg or breadcrumbs?

So, when I made them I added the things I thought were missing – and I have done it differently each time I have made them so I don’t really have a ‘recipe’. Seriously, I just play with food like the children mixing potions with loose parts…as long as it is edible I’ll consider throwing it in a ‘recipe’. Also note, I am cooking for a big group so I usually start with double the above recipe. These are some of the other modifications I have made.

First, I add a lot more seasoning. I have dried vegetable seasoning (onion, peppers, garlic) that I add to things like scrambled eggs or herb bread etc when I want the flavour but not the chunks or moisture from chopped or pureed onions and peppers. I have used the dried vegetable seasoning in these burgers and I have also used oregano, thyme, rosemary – total of probably at least two or more tablespoons of various dried seasonings. Sometimes I add bacon bits, soya sauce, BBQ sauce, or Thai sweet chili sauce.

Second, I add an egg and some cornmeal/oatmeal/breadcrumbs. Actually, never breadcrumbs, I don’t buy or make breadcrumbs but they would work too. I usually add cornmeal to all my ground meat loaves/balls/burgers. Sometimes I use oatmeal though I put it in the food processor first because I only buy whole oats and they would make the burgers chunky if I didn’t grind up a bit it first. If I am adding pureed onions and peppers I will put the oatmeal in the food processor at the same time.

How much cornmeal/oatmeal? I have no idea, I just dump it in straight from the bag, maybe a cup? Normally I would add enough to enable me to handle the mixture and form patties but honestly every time I have made these I feel like I’m adding way too much filler and they have still been too wet to handle. I have spooned the mixture onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet like a drop cookie, shaped them a bit and then baked them. I usually get 16 smallish patties out of a recipe starting with 2 lbs ground chicken.

The original recipe says to broil them 8 minutes per side until no longer pink. Hmpf – too wet to put on my broiler pan – would make rippled burgers LOL. I bake them for about 25-30 minutes at 375 F on my oven’s convection roast setting (400F on regular setting) flipping after about 15-20 minutes so they brown a bit on both sides. I always use a thermometer to ensure min internal temp of 165F/74C. They always set up very solid, never crumble so I don’t know why they are too wet to handle raw.

AAannnd – no picture. That is probably why I kept putting off writing this post. I have never remembered to take a picture of the Apple Burgers – too busy eating them. I let the children choose the condiments they want on their burgers. For me, it is mayonnaise and Thai sweet chili sauce for extra flavour ūüôā

In lieu of an apple burger pic – here are some barbecued beef patties my husband cooked for me (I’m a little fearful of the gas BBQ thingy). I’m always sad when he doesn’t BBQ beef burgers ‘crispy’ enough for me so he cooked these ones special just the way I like them…

The Delightful Mistake

I wanted to do some type of play dough/sensory activity with the infants and toddlers but didn’t have the time to make a batch of cooked dough.¬† However, I did have some flour and baby oil to make cloud dough – such an easy recipe.

I starting adding flour to a bowl containing the baby oil.  At first it was a little too sticky and wet so I added more flour.  Then it was too dry Рthis was a problem because I had no more baby oil left.  I considered other liquid options.

Vegetable oil would work but it would make the dough turn yellowish and I was hoping to keep it white for now.¬† I wasn’t sure what plain water might do to the texture of the cloud dough and I didn’t want to experiment at the moment due to the limited time I had.

I decided to check the cupboards to see what other liquids I could find.  First I had to wash the dry flour mixture off my hands though.  As I rubbed my hands together with the soap and water I made a discovery.  The white cream soap could be the perfect liquid for the dough.

It took a little trial and error to get the texture just right.¬† Too dry – add more soap.¬† Too wet – add more flour.¬† I was slightly concerned that it may just be an endless cycle but it didn’t really take long to get the perfect consistency.

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At first the toddlers only poked at it.  Even with rolling pins and play dough tools they still prefer to simply poke the dough or tear off little pieces.  I provided some tissue paper for them to tear up and add to their dough.

This was why I wanted to leave the dough white.  I know when we use glue with tissue paper the dye from the paper tends to transfer onto hands and other surfaces.  Usually I find this a little annoying but this time I thought it could be helpful.  I hoped that as the children mixed little pieces of tissue paper to the dough the dye would spread through the dough.

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It didn’t.¬† I guess that the dough wasn’t wet enough to release the dye from the paper.¬† The little flecks of colour still looked pretty and the children enjoyed adding the little paper pieces.

We also discovered that the addition of the cream soap instead of more baby oil made the dough stretchy.  Wonderfully pliable without falling apart even when the infants waved it about;

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Then I gave them each a small container.  Their favorite activity is putting stuff in containers and taking it out again.  This amused the little ones and extended the activity for much longer.

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Even though it didn’t necessarily go as planned it was still a wonderful engaging activity.

 

Surprise!

Sometimes the things that we do here don’t go the way we expected.¬† These surprises often end up creating even more interest than the ‘proper’ result would have.¬† For example, we planted sunflowers in the pots by the fence.¬† They were slow to start growing during the cool spring/summer but one of them has managed to grow taller than the fence;

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So far it is just a ‘sunflower plant‘ without an actual flower but its neighbour has a flower – you have to look closer to see it;

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We’ve had many discussions about ‘tall’ and ‘small’.¬† Our beans have created a lot of interest too.¬† There are so many of them in the garden;

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But look – over by the neighbour’s garage, there is something tall growing in the blue barrel with the carrots;

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Yes, the carrots look unhappy Рthey need some water.  We only planted carrot seeds in this barrel, what is that other plant?  It is taller than the roof of the garage.  Look closer;

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BEANS!¬† We didn’t plant any here – we assume this plant grew from one of the ‘loose parts’ beans we played with¬† last fall/winter.

We cut down all the sweet grass in the garden.¬† It is drying on the upper deck and smells wonderful.¬† Haven’t yet decided what we’re going to do with it all.

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But wait, now there is more sweet grass growing in the garden!

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We didn’t expect that.¬† Maybe the recent rain rejuvenated it.¬† We were invigorated by the rain too.¬† Some couldn’t resist taking off their shoes to experience the sensation of bare feet on the wet deck/grass;

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Notice her little friend?  Mister Slug rode around on her foot for most of the morning.  Every time he escaped fell off she carefully placed him back on the amusement park ride for another trip around the yard.

We also hoped the rain would help clean off some of the goop we created last month.  It is somewhat softer now but still very sticky and difficult to remove from surfaces;

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However, it seems to be a fabulous crack filler on the old logs;

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Surprise!

Beans

Since we first began gardening we have grown beans.¬† The children don’t really like to eat the beans but they have tried them.¬† The main reason we grow beans is to create cozy sit spots.¬† I have not found anything better than beans for climbing a trellis.¬† This was what one of our sit spots looked like by mid summer;

By the end of the summer all three of the triangle trellises were so overgrown you could barely find your way inside — making them the perfect hideaway.

I only purchased bean seeds for the first year Рwe collected the beans from our garden each year and planted them the following years.  Our bean supply is endless.  We have two different kinds of beans.  The basic green beans start as white flowers and have white seeds inside;

The Scarlet Runner beans grow from red flowers and they get very big;

They are very pretty – ranging from light pink to dark purple;

We have more scarlet runner beans than anything else in the garden.¬† They make terrific ‘loose parts’ and often get used as props in dramatic¬† play activities and as wonderful additions to ‘stew’;

Last week the children noticed that there were still a few dried beans left from the previous year when we had grown some in pots by the neighbours garage.  The children had already picked most of them but there were some that were too high for them to reach.

The children asked me to get the prized white beans down for them and then they buried them in the gravel — I was perplexed.¬† I asked them why they had done that. They answered “We hid them so the baby can’t find them.”¬† I was pretty sure no one was going to be able to find them in all that gravel;

The following day the children dashed outside and started looking for their beans.  After only a few seconds of digging they actually found one!?!?

I was astonished – apparently preschoolers are very much like squirrels in their ability to find their stash.

Next they buried some of the red beans.¬† I commented that those ones would be easier to find.¬† The children informed me that they were ‘planting’ these ones and they watered them too.

It is fall and these beans were planted in gravel.¬† I was going to say that the beans would not grow — but I hesitated.¬† I could be wrong.¬† After all, these are magical red beans so maybe they will grow — we’ll just wait and see.